Alan Stubbs today admitted having 12,000 Hibs fans at Tynecastle on Saturday will give his team a major advantage as they face Premiership side St Johnstone in their League Cup semi-final.
However, the Easter Road head coach dismissed as “irrelevant” Saints boss Tommy Wright’s claim that the Capital club are favourites to win the tie.
Hibs supporters snapped up the club’s initial allocation of 11,500 tickets, resulting in a further 600 coming their way – much to the anger of the Perth outfit, who have received just 3300 briefs for the match.
However, as happy as he is to know his side will have such a support, Stubbs insisted it will be vital his players turn up and put on a performance in what he predicts could be a “cracking” match.
He said: “We have the lion’s share of the support. We’re going to have 12,000 fans there which is going to be beneficial to us, to our advantage.
“It’ll be strange being at Tynecastle with so many of our supporters in a stadium where we are normally very much in the minority but there will be a great atmosphere.
“I’m sure our support will be very loud, it has all the makings of a great game, a great occasion and hopefully we can live up to that. We are only one step away from the final but you have to turn up and perform on the day – that’s what we are focusing on.”
Wright has claimed that, despite his side sitting in the top half of the Premiership table, they are underdogs by virtue of their current form – but Stubbs was having none of that. He said: “It’s irrelevant, to be honest. I am not going to get involved in that. If someone thinks we are favourites, fine. But it does not make a big of difference as we approach the game with the mindset we are going into a very difficult match. We are facing a team that’s played in Europe the last three or four seasons, one that’s won the Scottish Cup and has consistently finished in the top six of the Premiership. Put all that in the mix and then you know you are in for a very tough game.”
Saturday will see Stubbs come up against Liam Craig for the first time since deciding not to offer the former Hibs skipper a new deal at Easter Road, the midfielder then returning to McDiarmid Park two years after leaving for the Capital.
However, Stubbs insisted: “As far as I am concerned, Liam has nothing to prove. He was great when he was here, I just had a football decision to make. I’ve spoken to him since. We got on really well but he will be wanting to win on Saturday and so do I.”